Grand Daddy I.U. reportedly passed away on Tuesday (Dec. 13) at age 54.
The cause of the rapper’s death has yet to be revealed. I.U.’s passing was confirmed by AllHipHop and several additional sources. His friend and fellow rap luminary DJ Chuck Chillout announced the news in a post on his Facebook page.
Born in Queens, N.Y. and raised in Long Island’s Hempstead, Grand Daddy I.U., née Ayub Bey, came to prominence during the late ’80s and gained local popularity while performing alongside his brother Kay Cee. After a recorded demo found its way to fellow Long Island rep Biz Markie, the jovial rap star helped facilitate I.U.’s signing to Cold Chillin’ Records in 1989. The following year, the rapper unleashed his debut album Smooth Assassin, which was produced by Biz Markie and Cutmaster Cool V and yielded the hits “Something New” and “Sugar Free.”
Parting ways with Biz Markie following a dispute, I.U. returned in 1994 with his sophomore album Lead Pipe. Spending much of the ’90s recording guest appearances alongside The Notorious B.I.G., Big L, Positive K, and Roxanne Shante, the rapper went on to score credits as a producer. He contributed beats to projects by Das EFX, Heltah Skeltah, KRS-One, Ice-T, and more throughout his career.
Bey would later release two additional albums, 2007’s Stick to the Script and his last full-length release P.I.M.P. (Paper Is My Priority) in 2015. His last musical effort came earlier this year via the single “Trust Me” with Paula Perry & Da Inphamus Amadeuz.
Known for his clever wordplay and chic attire, Grand Daddy I.U. gained acclaim as one of the more heady rappers of his era, with a lyrical style that would influence numerous rappers. Rap star and Drink Champs cohost N.O.R.E. has acknowledged Grand Daddy I.U. as his favorite rapper of all-time on numerous occasions and his influence on his own desire to pursue a rap career.
VIBE sends our condolences to the friends and family of Grand Daddy I.U.